For years now, SC Villa has oscillated between several leadership arrangements, making it hard to define the true legal structure of the club.
In the third part of the series: Sixteen Years of SC Villa Drought, JOHN VIANNEY NSIMBE traces back how the October 2005 Villa presidential elections were hijacked, and continue to haunt the club...
In 2002, Franco Mugabe reluctantly accepted to continue as SC Villa president. He had been at the helm since 1993. So, by 2005, which marked the end of Mugabe’s fourth three-year term, he could not wait to throw in the towel.
The obvious successors appeared to be Omar Ahmed (Mandela) or Andrew Kasagga Zzimwe (RIP). But Mandela had an altercation with a section of Villa fans at a Namboole stadium gate, before a league game against Iganga TC, forcing him to resign. Zzimwe had apparently fallen out with his colleagues on the Villa executive, and was not interested in the presidency anymore.
That created a vacuum. Oh well it seemed, until a young and ambitious Villa fans national coordinator, Immanuel Ben Misagga, popped up; unfazed by the enormity of taking over this gigantic prospect, that was Villa.
At the elections, held at Namboole, where Misagga clearly did not have the blessing of Mugabe and Mandela, who instead backed their peer Fred Ivan Kawuma, commonly known as ‘Guy’, won the elections but not the presidency. Right before the voting could happen, Kawuma stood down, which left Misagga as the only man standing.
However, while that meant an obvious crowning for Misagga as the new Villa supremo, Mugabe and Mandela, backed by a section of fans, remonstrating against a Misagga presidency intervened. This stopped Misagga from ascending to power in what appeared unscrupulous, and a defiling of the club’s democratic systems, leaving Mugabe and Mandela in the spotlight to-date.
Then, Balamaze Lwanga (RIP), who was the Villa patron, oversaw the election. And as he prepared to announce Misagga as president, a short meeting on the side was conducted between him, Mugabe and Mandela. Considered legendary administrators of Villa, their call was highly respected even if it meant breaking the constitution.
As a result, Lwanga announced that Mugabe would continue leading Villa in interim capacity for three months, as a roadmap to fresh elections in December 2005 was drawn. There seemed to be little consideration for the fact that Misagga had been robbed of the club presidency in broad daylight.
Matters were not helped, that Misagga chose to remain quiet. His reasoning at the time was that he did not want to drag Villa to court, because it would have easily torn the club apart. Noble as that may have been, Misagga allowed illegitimacy define Villa, because Mugabe continued to lead the club without a clear mandate until 2010.
Enter Chris Mubiru
Between 2006 and 2010, Mugabe was not fully engaged with Villa, as far as the day-to-day running of the team was concerned. That gave the ‘infamous’ Chris Mubiru a blank cheque to call the shots. He duly handled the player welfare issues together with Sam Tamale Kapeera (RIP), with whom they were really close friends.
But throughout that time, Villa fans were disenfranchised. Selegious Katongole, the head of protocol in the recent Misagga administration between 2014 and 2018, said: “Mugabe and Mandela were quite comfortable with the state of affairs at Villa provided they remained with control over the club without committing fully to administering the club.”
Katongole added that while it was clear these gentlemen had run their race, and were out of gas, they did not want a Misagga-kind of situation emerging again, of someone they did not approve of. Katongole added: “Some fans have been in the habit of going to their offices to beg Mugabe and Mandela to come back and be in charge, hence giving them a sense of self-importance, and power to lay siege on the club.”
However, Mugabe denied that this was the case. He told The Observer that they remain loyal to the club, simply. And only lend a hand, whenever approached. It is not true that they hold the club at ransom, with intentions to keep controlling it behind the scenes.
Yet, without standard democratic practices, Villa has continued to metamorphose into different forms of leadership.
The fans have accepted anything that comes. But there has been one common denominator in all this, as we shall learn, when these series continue next week.